Sadia Shaukat has come a long way – nearly 8,000 miles — to drive improvements in education policy back in her home country of Pakistan. After a stint in Australia, the Fulbright visiting scholar is calling UNLV home for now. The exchange program from the U.S. State Department provides grants for post-doctoral research for international scholars. Shaukat's work seeks opportunities to bridge theory into practice for the benefit of teachers worldwide.
What led you to apply for the Fulbright visiting scholar program?
Being a Fulbright is a lifetime honor, so I had a great desire to get this award to recognize my abilities and capabilities as a teacher educator. It's an important validation of my hard work and passion for international research.
Why did you choose to come to UNLV for your Fulbright visiting scholar program?
I met professor Emily Lin when we collaborated on some past research projects, which gave me confidence in continuing the partnership here. I felt UNLV's campus was welcoming to other cultures and nationalities and gave a sense of belonging. The university and college’s faculty have a strong focus on Asian countries, and I wanted to work with those professors to extend my research collaboration.
Tell us about your Fulbright project.
My project centers on professional standards for teachers, known as the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC). I am comparing university programs with and without accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. In the end, I believe my findings will help me to design teacher education programs in Pakistan by integrating professional standards and the fact that it’s a Fulbright project lends credence to my recommendations to my country's educational authorities.
What is teacher self-efficacy and how does it relate to professional standards?
When we effectively prepare teachers for the classroom, they begin their careers with more self-confidence and a stronger professional identity. By integrating professional standards into teacher preparation, candidates who successfully complete their programs will have the professional knowledge, teaching methods, and engagement tools to become successful educators.
Is this an issue in Pakistan?
There has been significant debate over whether Pakistan has compromised the quality of the teacher education quality, reduced teacher effectiveness and, as a result, reduced educator retention by failing to implement professional standards. This is the time to contribute, through published research, sound recommendations to improve education. Quality education depends on quality teachers, so I am focusing on research that can make a difference.
You're living on campus during your fellowship. How has that experience been?
Living on campus has given me good opportunities to students from different nationalities and to get to know about their cultures and food. I really enjoy talking with students and learning how their passion brought them here. The campus is very tranquil in the evening with beautiful views, especially in the Central Desert Complex. It gives me a peaceful sense of nature.